Marmalade Meets the Cocktail Shaker


The breakfast table and the cocktail shaker rarely meet nowadays. But last week, Washington, D.C.-based bartender Derek Brown wrote for The Atlantic's food blog that one morning staple is worth reaching for during the cocktail hour: marmalade.

The reasons Brown reaches for marmalade aren't solely related to its taste. "One of the tenets of craft bartending is the use of fresh juices," he writes. "But what if you don't have fresh fruit, or what if you're looking for the character of preserved fruits? After all, if we were to be sticklers for localism—which is the logical extension of fresh fruits and vegetables—we wouldn't be able to use many of the 'fresh fruits' we use year-round, which are shipped from exotic locales and bear the carbon footprint of a Sasquatch."

While marmalade and other fruit preserves may not quite have the vibrant snap of fresh fruit, they can bring a richness and depth to a cocktail that can be absolutely delicious. And the bitter edge of Seville oranges—the type of orange typically used in marmalade—provides a flavorful point when matched with ingredients such as lemon juice and gin or whiskey.

Drinks made with marmalade date to at least 1930, when the gin-based Marmalade Cocktail appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book, and jams and jellies have a long history with mixology, with drinks such as the guava jelly-spiked Barbados Punch appearing in Jerry Thomas Bartender's Guide from 1862. Brown writes of another drink, the Kinloch Plantation Special, a type of whiskey punch that appeared in a 1950 cookbook, and two years ago Eric Felten wrote in the Wall Street Journal that during the Second World War, American general Omar Bradley substituted a dollop of orange marmalade for his customary (but hard to come by, owing to wartime rationing) slice of fresh orange when preparing his Old Fashioneds.

Contemporary bartenders have deployed marmalade to excellent effect. I wrote a while back about the cachaça-based Marmalade Sour, from Seattle bartender Jamie Boudreau, and in the UK a popular drink destined to become a classic is the Breakfast Martini, from London bartender Salvatore Calabrese.